Hope, Healing and Hooves, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, is now in its fifth year of serving our community. Hope, Healing and Hooves, Inc. (“HHH”) was created from a passion for helping at risk and low-income children by providing an equestrian program that encourages school attendance, increases self-confidence and improves school performance. Our program reaches children in the Spring Branch area of Houston, Texas, through consistent weekly interaction with horses.
The mission of HHH is to reach, inspire and improve the quality of life for at-risk and underprivileged children through continuous interaction and training with horses.
Using the unique connection between horse and rider, HHH gives underprivileged and at-risk children a path that promotes healthy self-esteem, patience, accountability and confidence and fosters independence through discipline and the relationship between horse and rider. Through consistent and purposeful partnership with horses, the children are encouraged to be successful in life, beginning with an emphasis on emotional health, school attendance and academic improvement. By sharing this opportunity to bond with horses, HHH promotes taking the road less traveled for greater personal achievement.
In September of 2015, we identified a need in the At-Risk and underprivileged children population. These children tend to have poor attendance and poor performance in school. With her background in business and in the horse industry, Granger Durdin recognized a unique way that she could help in the community. The idea of having at-risk and underprivileged children come to the horse barn was the beginning of HHH. They would have the opportunity to learn and experience some of the life changing elements that the horses brought to Granger’s life. Over the course of two months, the program was developed with the help of a few key members of Texas Capital Bank. Because of the desire to help and the belief in this program, Texas Capital Bank became a Platinum sponsor with both monetary contribution and volunteers. The program was started with 50 students from Spring Shadows Elementary in December 2015. HHH was able to grow the program to 60 students in 2017 and in 2018 was able to branch out to two other schools. HHH is currently serving Spring Shadows, Shadow Oaks, and Thornwood Elementaries. The HHH program is hosted by Magic Moments Stable, which is also located in the Spring Branch ISD.
We focus our outreach in Spring Branch ISD because 56 percent of Spring Branch ISD students are economically disadvantaged, and 59 percent of the students are Hispanic. Many of the students come from apartment housing and predominately low-income neighborhoods. The schools that we initially incorporated into the program have no PTA and very little to no parental involvement. As the barn is located in Spring Branch ISD, transporting the students by bus is easily feasible.
Each lesson includes a place and time for snacks, instruction on routine care and handling of the horses, proper care for the necessary equipment, and riding time. Two students and a volunteer are assigned to one horse, so that each student gets plenty of one-on-one attention, and an instructor oversees the program. The program also includes lots of fun activities for the students in a safe and familiar environment – Trick-or-Treating, Christmas photos with a horse they decorated, and community service opportunities to list only a few.
HHH hopes to expand the program beyond the Spring Branch district to other Title one schools in Houston and Harris County and would eventually like to include other counties and needy school districts. There is enough need that in the future, we would hope for nation-wide coverage with internal oversight from our original board.
From inception of the program, all but three of the horses used in HHH have been either Purebred Arabian or Half-Arabian. Currently we only have one out of 14 horses that is not a Half- or Purebred Arabian. Our riders are taught mostly in dressage saddles and are taught to walk, trot, rise the trot and to steer and guide the horses around the arena obstacles. We have had a couple students over the years that were so withdrawn, they would not even talk. After spending time in the program, they started talking and expressing themselves to us, their teachers and their class mates.
It is the kindness and care that these horses show the HHH students that brings out the trauma in the students to allow then to start processing what has happened to them. A few of the horses currently in the program are:
- Rustaleta++ (Noble Prize++ x HL Bandaleta, by Bandos PASB) who has an extensive show record in Sport Horse and Dressage with Amateur and Junior riders.
- Uforia (SR Rico x Ucrania de Plata, by Bariata De Washoe) who is a Spanish-bred Arabian.
- Wendula (Erros x Wigana, by Camerton), a Pure Polish mare.
- Unanimous Vote (Eldans Wotan x by Chilkat Pass *El Paso), a former racehorse that then did Dressage and Competitive Trail. He is a multiple regional award winner.
- Tsorcerers Aura (Raje Tsorcerer x Khem-Aura, by Khemosabi), a 30-year-old gelding that is a multiple regional title winner.
- Uforic Storm MM (Thunder Bay May (Appaloosa) x Uforia, by SR Rico), a Regional Champion Sport Horse Half-Arabian mare and Regional Top 5 in Western Dressage.
- Mi Apasionata, an Arabian lesson mare
- Ima Spotlight (Accent x Johnnie Scott Two (Appaloosa)), a full sibling to multiple National title winners
Learn more about HHH by watching the following videos:
For more information or to help, please contact HHH at 281-932-3643 or email at HHHDirector2015@gmail.com.
Guest blogger Denise Shannon has a master’s degree in Equine Breeding Management, 30 years of experience in the Arabian industry and currently the Academy Manager at Bay Area Equestrian Center. She also owns DS Equine Management, a consultancy for business and breeding management in the horse business.